The New Orleans Pelicans defended home court on Sunday night, pulling away from the Phoenix Suns for a 118-103 victory in Game 4 of their first-round series. Now all tied at 2-2, the series will shift back to Phoenix for a pivotal Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Just as he has all series, Brandon Ingram led the way for the Pelicans, finishing with 30 points, four rebounds and five assists. He was particularly influential in the game-changing third quarter, scoring 18 points as the Pelicans turned a halftime deficit into a double-digit lead.
The Pels never trailed again, and pulled away in the middle of the fourth quarter with an energetic run led by the defense of rookies Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado. They also got a big night from Jonas Valanciunas, who went for 26 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.
Deandre Ayton had 23 points for the Suns, while JaVale McGee added 14 off the bench on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting performance. Those two being the leading scorers is never a good sign for the Suns, though, and they just didn’t have enough offense in this game with Devin Booker still sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Here are some key takeaways from the game:
Ingram leads the way
Brandon Ingram had never played in a playoff game prior to this season, a fact he made not of following the team’s play-in victory over the Los Angeles Clippers to clinch the No. 8 seed.
“Man it feels wonderful,” Ingram said at the time. “Just to have a chance to be in the postseason this year. Never had a winning record, never been in the postseason. To get a chance to showcase my talent on the biggest stage is beautiful.”
He’s taken that chance and then some. On Sunday night he put together another strong performance, finishing with 30 points, four rebounds and five assists for his third straight 30-point game in this series. He is the first player in Pelicans franchise history to accomplish that feat.
After the Pelicans went cold at the end of the first half and gave up the lead, Ingram set the tone coming out of the break. He either scored or assisted on five straight baskets to start the third quarter, putting the Pelicans back in front for good. Later on, he threw down a huge driving dunk that was the highlight of an 18-point frame.
Courtesy: CBS Sports